Category Archives: news

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Lighting up AstroLight 2018

8 September, 2018:

It was a fantastic evening of outreach by the CNBP-RMIT team at the annual AstroLight Festival, at Scienceworks in Melbourne, 8th September, 2018.

A wide range of demonstrations, talks and hands-on activities from volunteers from Observatories, Universities and Research Centres brought science to life to over 600 members of the public at this annual astronomy and optics event.

CNBP highlights included public talks from Center Chief Investigator Prof Andrew Greentree (The wonders and delights of bees and how they see colour) and Centre Associate Investigator Dr Kate Fox (Fluorescent Implants: 3D printing for the future).

Also  popular was the CNBP interactive stall where there was a number of light based giveaways as well as a room of CNBP light experiments showcasing the properties of lasers, fluorescence, imaging and more.

“Taking science to the public is always extremely satisfying,” said CNBP Node Leader at RMIT University, A/Prof Brant Gibson.

“It’s great to be able to excite and enthuse people about what we do and to explain the relevance that science has in our community more generally.”

“The team came together with a huge amount of energy and positivity which helped make the evening a great success!”

Below – Big smiles from the CNBP-RMIT team at AstroLight 2018!

Peptides as bio-inspired electronic materials

7 September 2018:

A new paper with CNBP authors Jingxian Yu, John Horsley and Andrew Abell extends fundamental knowledge of charge transfer dynamics and kinetics in peptides and also open up new avenues to design and develop functional bio-inspired electronic devices, such as on/off switches and quantum interferometers, for practical applications in molecular electronics.

Journal: Accounts of Chemical Research.

Publication title: Peptides as Bio-Inspired Electronic Materials: An Electrochemical and First-Principles Perspective.

Authors: Jingxian Yu, John R. Horsley, and Andrew D. Abell.

Abstract: Molecular electronics is at the forefront of interdisciplinary research, offering a significant extension of the capabilities of conventional silicon-based technology as well as providing a possible stand-alone alternative. Bio-inspired molecular electronics is a particularly intriguing paradigm, as charge transfer in proteins/peptides, for example, plays a critical role in the energy storage and conversion processes for all living organisms. However, the structure and conformation of even the simplest protein is extremely complex, and therefore, synthetic model peptides comprising well-defined geometry and predetermined functionality are ideal platforms to mimic nature for the elucidation of fundamental biological processes while also enhancing the design and development of single-peptide electronic components.

In this Account, we first present intramolecular electron transfer within two synthetic peptides, one with a well-defined helical conformation and the other with a random geometry, using electrochemical techniques and computational simulations. This study reveals two definitive electron transfer pathways (mechanisms), the natures of which are dependent on secondary structure. Following on from this, electron transfer within a series of well-defined helical peptides, constrained by either Huisgen cycloaddition, ring-closing metathesis, or a lactam bridge, was determined. The electrochemical results indicate that each constrained peptide, in contrast to a linear counterpart, exhibits a remarkable shift of the formal potential to the positive (>460 mV) and a significant reduction of the electron transfer rate constant (up to 15-fold), which represent two distinct electronic “on/off” states. High-level calculations demonstrate that the additional backbone rigidity provided by the side-bridge constraints leads to an increased reorganization energy barrier, which impedes the vibrational fluctuations necessary for efficient intramolecular electron transfer through the peptide backbone. Further calculations reveal a clear mechanistic transition from hopping to superexchange (tunneling) stemming from side-bridge gating. We then extended our research to fine-tuning of the electronic properties of peptides through both structural and chemical manipulation, to reveal an interplay between electron-rich side chains and backbone rigidity on electron transfer. Further to this, we explored the possibility that the side-bridge constraints present in our synthetic peptides provide an additional electronic transport pathway, which led to the discovery of two distinct forms of quantum interferometer. The effects of destructive quantum interference appear essentially through both the backbone and an alternative tunneling pathway provided by the side bridge in the constrained β-strand peptide, as evidenced by a correlation between electrochemical measurements and conductance simulations for both linear and constrained β-strand peptides. In contrast, an interplay between quantum interference effects and vibrational fluctuations is revealed in the linear and constrained 310-helical peptides.

Understanding glycome changes in diabetic ovarian tissue

28 August 2018:

This paper describes the characterization of protein glycosylation in the ovary and measures the changes that occur with the induction of diabetes. The lead author on the paper is CNBP PhD student Abdulrahman M Shathili from Macquarie University (pictured).

Journal: Glycobiology.

Publication title: The effect of streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia on N-and O-linked protein glycosylation in mouse ovary.

Authors: Abdulrahman M Shathili, Hannah M Brown, Arun V Everest-Dass, Tiffany C Y Tan, Lindsay M Parker, Jeremy G Thompson, Nicolle H Packer.

Abstract: Post-translational modification of proteins namely glycosylation influences cellular behavior, structural properties and interactions including during ovarian follicle development and atresia. However, little is known about protein glycosylation changes occurring in diabetes mellitus in ovarian tissues despite the well-known influence of diabetes on the outcome of successful embryo implantation. In our study, the use of PGC chromatography–ESI mass spectrometry in negative ion mode enabled the identification of 138 N-glycans and 6 O-glycans on the proteins of Streptozotocin-induced (STZ) diabetic mouse ovarian tissues (n = 3). Diabetic mouse ovaries exhibited a relative decrease in sialylation, fucosylation and, to a lesser extent, branched N-linked glycan structures, as well as an increase in oligomannose structures on their proteins, compared with nondiabetic mouse ovaries. Changes in N-glycans occurred in the diabetic liver tissue but were more evident in diabetic ovarian tissue of the same mouse, suggesting an organ-specific effect of diabetes mellitus on protein glycosylation. Although at a very low amount, O-GalNAc glycans of mice ovaries were present as core type 1 and core type 2 glycans; with a relative increase in the NeuGc:NeuAc ratio as the most significant difference between control and diabetic ovarian tissues. STZ-treated mice also showed a trend towards an increase in TNF-α and IL1-B inflammatory cytokines, which have previously been shown to influence protein glycosylation.

Profiting from the sugar coating of our cells

18 August 2018:

Shathili Abdulrahman, CNBP PhD Student at Macquarie University has won a prize for his talk ‘Profiting from the sugar coating of our cells: Immunology drugs as a case study’.

The successful talk took place at the ‘Third Saudi Scientific Symposium 2018’ organised by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Australia and held at the University of Sydney.

The symposium had the theme, ‘Aligning Research with Job Market Expectations‘ and aimed to develop the research of postgraduate candidate’s through networking opportunities with other researchers in the areas of Medical sciences, Engineering, Computer and Applied Social Sciences, and Humanities.

Further Symposium information is accessible online.

Light-based outreach at MQ Open Day

18 August 2018:

Light-based demos ranging from optical fibre lamps, to infinity LED light boxes, to UV light and a fluorescing scorpion were all on show to the general public and potential new students at the CNBP stand at Macquarie University’s Open Day.

At the stand, CNBP researchers took the opportunity to talk-up science and more specifically to explain the field of biophotonics, as well as discuss the value to society that CNBP research provides. Many potential students seemed to be particularly interested in possible career opportunities following a successful under-graduate science degree and were keen to find out more about jobs in the med-tech and general health and diagnosis arena.

In addition to the demonstrations and the informative CNBP science stand, the Centre was also represented at the Open Day science speed dating event. At this session, CNBP laboratory manager Dr Ayad Anwer discussed his science (hyper-spectral imaging work focused on exploring the inner workings of cells), to interested members of the public who had the opportunity to speak directly and in-turn with a room full of MQ University researchers.

Feedback from the Centre team who volunteered for the Open Day was that they had experienced an enjoyable time with many positive interactions, discussing their science and their life as a scientist more generally, to interested and engaged members of the public.

Below – The CNBP team get ready and prepped for Open Day!



CNBP science to Concordia College

17 August 2018:

CNBP continued its outreach interactions with Concordia College (Adelaide) with a team of Centre researchers taking their light-focused science to the school, all in support of National Science Week.

Two separate outreach sessions were undertaken by the CNBP team at the college (each session presented to approximately 75 Year 9 and Year 7 students). Researchers consisted of Pat Capon and Aimee Horsfall (Chemists), Kylie Dunning and Darren Chow (Biologists) and Akash Bachhuka (Physicist).

Demonstrations and activity included the following:

-Propylene glycol bending light
-A universal pH indicator
-Metal salts in flame
-Trans-disciplinary Biology/Chemistry/Physics in research
-The illusion of holograms
-Discussion on where a science degree can take you

“This was the key activity that Concordia College engaged with for National Science Week and it was great to see so many students interacting directly with our researchers,” said Partnerships Manager Mel Trebilcock.

“There were some great questions from the students and the CNBP team really enjoyed getting out of the laboratory and inspiring the next generation of young scientists,” she said.

New CNBP researcher at RMIT

16 August 2018:

CNBP welcomes its newest recruit at RMIT University, Dr Amanda Abraham.

She will work with A/Prof Brant Gibson, CNBP Deputy Director and his team, where she will utilise her expertise to explore the biological applications of fluorescent nanomaterials including nanodiamonds, as well as collaborate across the wider CNBP community.

Amanda completed her PhD at RMIT University where she studied the long-term effects of phytochemical coated silver nanoparticles on mammalian cells. She was awarded the Prof CNR Rao Postgraduate Research Excellence Award for her PhD research. This award is given to an RMIT Graduate Sstudent for outstanding contributions in the application of Nanotechnology.

She has also worked as a post-doctoral researcher with Prof. Vipul Bansal, Director of the Sir Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility at RMIT University, where she investigated the wound healing capabilities of silver nanoparticle coated fabrics for use as wound dressings.

Her expertise includes mammalian cell culture, confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, protein quantification, assessing gene expression and nanoparticle characterisation.

Welcome to the CNBP team Amanda!

Future Fellowship success for CNBP researchers

13 August 2018:

In exciting grant funding news, ARC Future Fellowships were recently awarded to the following CNBP researchers:

Prof Mark Hutchinson (CNBP Director, pictured) – University of Adelaide. Measuring pain in livestock: mechanisms, objective biomarkers and treatments.

Dr Ivan Maksymov (CNBP Researcher Fellow) – RMIT University. Nonlinear optical effects with low-power non-laser light.

Dr Steven Wiederman (CNBP Associate Investigator) – University of Adelaide. From insects to robots: how brains make predictions and ignore distractions.

The Future Fellowships scheme supports research in areas of critical national importance by giving outstanding researchers incentives to conduct their research in Australia. Each Future Fellow recipient will receive salary and on-cost support for four years, and up to $50,000 in additional funding per year for other essential costs directly related to their project.

Congratulations to all Fellowship recipients who will now be able to further develop and advance their innovative areas of research! Further information on Fellowship projects are available from the ARC web site.

Open Day at the University of Adelaide

12 August 2018:

The CNBP team at the University of Adelaide had their light-based science, advanced new tools and innovative startup companies on show at this year’s Open Day, Sunday 12 August, 2018.

Members of the public and aspiring students had the opportunity to see ultra small 3D imaging needles from Miniprobes, the sensor from MEQ Probe that utilises spectral analysis to objectively determine the quality of meat in seconds, and chemistry demonstrations from CNBP PhD students Aimee Horsfall, Kathryn Palasis & Patrick Capon demonstrating a pH Universal Indicator.

The Open Day showcases the University’s programs, facilities, and staff, with the aim of helping those individuals who are thinking about entering higher-education study. CNBP’s efforts were focused on displaying the benefits and career opportunities possible in the biophotonics space (academically and commercially) following a strong undergraduate degree in science.

Below – Photos from the Open Day. Top photo shows a demonstration of pH levels. Bottom photo shows Prof Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director demonstrating the “MEQ Meat Probe”.

CNBP shines at RMIT Open Day

12 August 2018:

250 members of the public including families and potential students visited CNBP laboratories at RMIT University, Sunday 12th August, 2018, as a part of the institution’s Open Day activity.

Learning about the science of light, as well as sensing and imaging at the nanoscale, attendees were able to tour the biophotonics and cryogenic confocal laboratories, as well as experience first hand, demonstrations which included fluorescence microscopy.

“At times, the labs were packed with interested and engaged prospective students and their friends and families, said CNBP Deputy Director and RMIT node leader A/Prof Brant Gibson.

“It was amazing to hear the passion for science by some of the prospective students – some really knew what they wanted to study and some didn’t.”

“There was also excellent feedback from public regarding the the passion from my team when discussing CNBP research and why it is having such an impact for society, he says.”

Below – Emma Wilson demonstrating fluorescence microscopy! Bottom photo – Dr Philipp Reineck demonstrating fluorescence with UV light in the lab.